August 31st – San Buenaventura State Beach

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10 hikers traveled to the Greenock Lane “entrance” to San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura on a pleasant somewhat foggy summer morning [Note: Greenock Lane is on the west side of Marina Park; parking is free]. As we began our out-and-back hike along the beach it was nearly deserted, making our walk along the shore easy to enjoy as we watched ocean breakers and various birds searching for food near the water.

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We passed lots of homes set back a reasonable distance from the shore and a series of four rock groins [“a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment”] that extend offshore to protect the beach from erosion as we drew closer to the Ventura Pier.

Since the “beach” had turned mostly to rocks by then we moved onto the paved walking and bicycling path for the remainder of the “out” portion of our hike. Continuing we passed under the Ventura Pier, walked through Promenade Park, passed by Surfers Point at Seaside Park (there were a couple dozen surfers in the water), and hiked beside the Ventura River Estuary (where the river flows into the ocean), passing by the Ventura County Fairgrounds as we did so [Note: There were no “deep-fried” goodies to be had there on this day]. Turning around we hiked back to the Ventura Pier and then climbed up the stairs to the pier and hiked to its far end. There were several fishermen on the pier; unfortunately the marine layer over the ocean had not improved so visibility from the pier was poor. Regrouping we retraced our route to our vehicles and returned home having completed a 7.1-mile hike with about 120’ of elevation gain/loss [Note: By the time we turned around there were a lot more people along our way].

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August 24th – Ormand Beach to the Port Hueneme Lighthouse

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12 hikers traveled to the gated Arnold Road entrance to Ormond Beach in Oxnard on a pleasant summer morning [Note: there is very limited parking at this entrance, so it’s best to arrive early]. As we began the short walk from the parking area to the beach, we spotted over a dozen mallard ducks. The beach is “an 865-acre undeveloped beach in Oxnard that is off the beaten track.

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The beach is backed by acres of farmland and has an extensive dune structure.” It “also includes a salt marsh wetland preserve, mud flats, and a freshwater lagoon [and the] preserve is on the Pacific Flyway, a 2,000-mile migratory route providing habitat for birds between Alaska and Latin America.” Due to our early morning start, we encountered only a few individual fishermen but quite a few sandpipers as we hiked northwest along the beautiful nearly deserted beach while enjoying the sound and sight of waves breaking as they approached land.

Eventually we reached Port Hueneme Beach Park, “a well-maintained, landscaped park to the southeast of the 1,600-acre Port Hueneme Naval Construction Battalion Center.” The 50-acre park “has a wide sandy beach and a T-shaped recreational Pier that extends 1,240 feet out to sea [with] great views of the Ventura County coastline and the Channel Islands.” Upon reaching our turnaround destination, the Point Hueneme Lighthouse, we learned that it is open for free tours on the 3rd Saturday of each month (sadly we arrived on the 4th Saturday of August).

As we started back the way we had come, we walked out to the end of the long fishing pier in Port Hueneme Beach Park and then continued back to our vehicles, returning home having completed an 8.5-mile hike with less than 100’ of elevation gain/loss on a beautiful day to be at the beach.

NOTE: The 3.6-mile (RT) Bubbling Springs Recreational Greenbelt Trail is also available from our route (though we did not hike it). Bubbling Springs Park “is a long, narrow greenbelt extending from the ocean at Port Hueneme Beach Park to Port Hueneme’s inner residential area.”

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August 17th – Temescal Canyon

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16 hikers carpooled to the lower parking lot at Temescal Gateway Park. A lovely refuge from the nearby urban congestion, it borders Topanga State Park. Our hike began on a shady trail along the streambed in Temescal Canyon and led pleasantly past rustic buildings constructed in the 1920’s for the Methodist Church as a west coast center for the Chautauqua movement. The whole area is shaded by towering eucalyptus trees as well as oak trees and a variety of other non-native trees such as palms and conifers.

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The trail began rising in Temescal Canyon as it entered Topanga State Park and we soon reached a wooden bridge crossing the streambed at a point where there is sometimes a series of cascades (a “waterfall”) though there was very little water at this time of year. Continuing westward (and upward) along the trail we reached Temescal Ridge where there were panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the coastline and a hazy view of the Los Angeles skyline.

We then descended along the Temescal Ridge (aka Viewpoint) Trail to the canyon bottom where we made our way to a different trailhead for the second part our hike. We hiked eastward on a shady trail over another ridge and down into Rivas Canyon where the heavily shaded trail followed a seasonal stream (dry this day). Using a short connector trail, we reached Will Rogers State Historic Park where we took a lunch break on the front porch of the old ranch house and enjoyed the views of the spacious green lawn and the nearby polo field. We then returned to Temescal Gateway Park and our vehicles via the Rivas Canyon trail, completing a 9.3-mile hike with over 2,000’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant day for hiking. NOTE: Though there weren’t many wildflowers at this time of year, there were lots of Cliff Asters blooming along our way.

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August 10th – Carpinteria Bluffs to Tar Pits State Park

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This time of year is often the warmest, so we schedule hikes in locations that afford us a break from the heat. This summer has been relatively cool. Temperatures in Simi Valley were in the mid-eighties today. It was still a welcome 68 degrees when our hike was over. So, while Les was high up in the Sierras yet again (http://www.sierramulepacks.org/trips.html#trip4), this time chasing down somebody’s ass all morning, 10 hikers met at the trailhead next to Carpinteria Bluffs overlooking Bates Beach.

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Again this year, there were no seals to be seen at Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary, except for one bobbing around just off the shore. Passing Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, Tar Pits Park was the next stop on our hike. It is second only in size to the famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Next the trail took us to Carpinteria State Beach, where we left the trail to begin the first beach segment of our hike. We stopped briefly at at the San Miguel Campground facilities, where several of us took water shoes to better enjoy the walk on the beach. The beach was especially inviting, with it’s unusually high water temperatures, and a welcome change of pace from our usual hikes. Continuing past Marsh Park, we saw a large flock seagulls enjoying the day too. The turn-around point of our hike was Sand Point, where we took a break on the stairs for lunch and snacks. A welcome and cool ocean breeze started just in time for our return. Just past the Nature Preserve, we took a short and steep connector trail that took us down to Bates Beach. On the way back to Rincon Park, we enjoyed exploring the unusual rock formations, and finding shells along the tide-line. We found several Wavy Turban Snails, both alive and dead, in the surf. Our hike was 7.65 miles with with 200′ of elevation gain/loss.

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August 3rd – Serrano Canyon Lollipop Loop

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11 hikers carpooled to the day-hiker’s parking lot at the Big Sycamore Canyon Campground on Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu State Park on a slightly overcast morning near the ocean. Our hike began by walking through the campground and then hiking 1.1 miles north on the dirt Sycamore Canyon Fire Road which we shared with bicyclists and scores of high-school-student runners.

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We then headed 1.7 miles east on the Serrano (“from the mountains”) Trail as it climbed gradually upstream through the beautiful shaded – but somewhat overgrown in places (particularly the upper section) – canyon. We enjoyed the sound and sight of running water in the stream as well as a surprising number and variety of late-blooming plants along the trail, including cliff asters, buckwheat, morning glories, wild roses, cattails, Dudleya live forever chalk plants, and poison oak (which we did our best to avoid).

We emerged from the canyon into lovely Serrano Valley which is ringed on all sides by mountains; it consists mainly of large meadows covered by wild grasses and dotted with a few trees and some bushes along the seasonal streams. After resting briefly to enjoy a cool ocean breeze, we began hiking the Serrano Valley Loop in a clockwise direction, stopping briefly to examine an old water pump. Resuming our hike, we soon reached a fork in the trail; we took the right fork and headed northeast, eventually dropping to a dry creek bed which we crossed and then continued eastward, climbing uphill. Upon reaching a narrow single-track trail on our right, we followed it as it headed southwest, spotting four mule deer just before crossing the dry creek bed again, and eventually completing the loop portion of our hike. We then followed our initial route downstream through Serrano Canyon and then Big Sycamore Canyon reaching our vehicles having completed a nearly 8-mile hike with 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss on a surprisingly pleasant day for hiking (we “beat the heat”).

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